Do you want to start living the homesteading lifestyle but put it on the back burner because you lack space? Well, what if I told you you could start urban homesteading now?!

Even if you live in the heart of the city in an urban setting you can start your homesteading journey right now. You can start learning new skills it takes to become a successful homesteader.

To be honest, starting with urban homesteading before the big move to the farm has its advantages over those that dive right in without a plan or the proper skills it takes to manage a full-blown homestead. Instead of trying to learn everything at once to keep your head above water, you can slowly master the skills and knowledge on a small homestead.

What is Urban Homesteading?

An urban homesteader is someone that takes the skills and practices of homesteading in their home that isn’t a farm. You start living the ways of a homesteader as urban dwellers.

My family, for example, lives in the heart of a small town. We own just less of a quarter-acre lot. Our town will not allow us to own any livestock such as goats or chickens in our small backyard so we do what we can to start learning and mastering the skills of homesteading with what we currently have.

We have a decent-sized garden that we expand every year that produces food for our family, but we do have to supplement in our cold climate with grocery store sales in the winter. We purchase our eggs from a local farmer, and in the summer and fall we buy as much produce as we can from farmers markets.

I started making everything from scratch, preserving what I can from our own home, and local farms. We embrace sustainable living as much as we can. We don’t consume half as much as we used to and we try to fix things before we buy new ones.

We’ve started composting which in turn produces less waste, and we save as much of our kitchen scraps as we can to make broths.

There are so many creative ways to start urban homesteading even with a lack of space.

Canning Homemade Strawberry Jam

How To Start an Urban Homestead

So how the heck can you start homesteading in your urban dwelling? Start by figuring out what lifestyle changes you want to make. If you want to be more self-sufficient in your food, start a garden, cook from scratch, and learn to preserve your own food. If you want to own lots of livestock start with a backyard chicken coop for 3 chickens and join your local chicken-raising group!

There are so many ways to start urban homesteading now. I have listed my 6 top tips on how you can start urban homesteading now!

1. Live Simply to Start Urban Homesteading

The number one lifestyle change you should start practicing now to start suburban homesteading is living simply. We embraced a more minimalist lifestyle at the same time as urban homesteading. In all honestly, I think it goes hand in hand.

First, we figured out where we were spending the most money frivolously. Looking back we ate out A LOT. So we knew we needed to simplify our meals and figure out a plan to reduce our spending on fast food. We were also spending a decent amount of money on things like home decor, clothing, and gifts. I sold a lot of the home decor that I purchased on a whim that didn’t serve us as well as started a capsule wardrobe for all of us. We now thrift before we buy brand new and sit on big purchases before we make them.

Basically, we retrained our minds on what we need vs. want to get out of the cycle of consumerism.

2. Grow Your Own Food (Build a Garden)

The first thing most people think of when it comes to urban homesteading is growing your own food. Even if you have limited space you can still provide your family with an abundance of fresh produce in your own small garden.

If you don’t have any growing space use your balcony as a small container garden for tomato plants or consider joining community gardens in your area, or even building an aquaponics system if you live in an apartment setting.

I suggest if you do have the room to build your own backyard homestead garden, start small and grow your garden beds each year. Gardening can be overwhelming at times with all of the watering, weeding, fertilizing, and harvesting. Going big too fast can lead to a vegetable garden disaster.

Productive gardens don’t have to be acres of land, you can easily grow your own mini orchard of fruit trees in containers. We planted our own dwarf apple trees in large whiskey barrels which we bring into our unheated garage to protect the roots from freezing in our cold temperatures.

Seed starting is a great skill to learn as an urban homesteader. Not only is it cheaper than buying from a garden center, but you also have more variety of options to grow! Our budget-friendly indoor seed-starting setup is the way we have started our canning garden successfully.

3. Start Composting and Save Water


If you are starting a garden you might as well learn how to compost as well! I can honestly say I have never been more excited about rotting food than when I learned how to compost. You don’t need any expensive equipment, all you need to start is an affordable compost bin such as this compost tumbler. Instead of turning your compost pile manually with a fork, a compost tumbler allows you to turn your compost pile easily with a few spins.

Tumbling Composter with Two Chambers

Our favorite composter for backyard urban homesteading.

Save Water When Urban Homesteading

Reduce your water bill by saving water in rain barrels for your garden. You can create a natural greywater system for your garden by collecting rainwater from your gutters. This can provide gallons of water that you would have used from your town’s water line reducing your water bills.

Cast Iron Pan on Counter

4. Learn to Cook From Scratch

Learning to cook from scratch is a staple skill when urban homesteading. If you don’t know where to start, think about what you buy from the grocery store, and figure out how to make it from scratch!

Learning to cook from scratch sort of fell in my lap before I started urban homesteading, I was looking for a way to heal my body and I realized that a lot of my issues were due to the foods we were eating. Even if it is labeled as a “healthy food” in order to keep it shelf-stable in the store, there are loads of preservatives added. So on my journey to preservative-free living, homesteading kind of followed.

The easiest way to start learning how to cook from scratch is to again, take it one step at a time. We started by doing a lot of baking. We made cookies, pancakes, cakes, and crackers all from scratch. Then we started making our own chicken broth by saving the bones from a whole chicken and kitchen scraps.

Our favorite from-scratch recipe is our homemade pizza dough recipe. Pizza is a weekly staple in our household. We now make it as a family from scratch instead of ordering takeout.

I am currently trialing bread recipes and learning how to make our own sourdough and sandwich bread, as well as homemade yogurt and freezer biscuits.

5. Preserve Your Own Food

The next skill to master as an urban homesteader is to preserve your own food. This can be through freezing, canning, and dehydrating.

We freeze and can as much as we possibly can from our garden and supplement the rest from the farmer’s market and our local farms. Start by writing a list of what you buy from the grocery store and figure out the best way to preserve it. We like to freeze a lot of our fresh produce such as carrots, beans, peppers, and onions since it almost acts as meal prepping and is very convenient for us for dinner. We never bought or ate canned vegetables so canning them ourselves would be a waste.

Check out all of our freezing and preserving recipes!

We can all of our jams, jellies, pickles, and sauces with our water bath canner. Water bath canning is a beginner-friendly way to can and my easy strawberry jam recipe is the perfect recipe to get your feet wet with canning.

This year I am excited to start experimenting with dehydrating. We are eyeing this dehydrator and we plan on dehydrating lots of tomatoes, peppers, and herbs for cooking and spices.

Water Bath Canning Kit

Everything you need to start water bath canning is in this kit!

6. Raise Backyard Chickens

Unfortunately or local laws don’t allow us to have backyard chickens. If you are fortunate enough to live in an area where you are allowed a chicken coop and a small flock of chickens, I highly encourage you to do so. In the meantime, while we wait for either our town to allow backyard chickens or we move to our dream homestead, I purchase fresh local eggs from a fellow homesteader in the area.

Raising your own chickens can provide you with many advantages as a homesteader such as eggs, meat, and even fertilizer for your garden beds.

If you live in an area like us and aren’t able to own backyard chickens, some local laws allow quail. Quail are smaller, quieter, and require much less space than chickens. They eat less feed while providing you with eggs and a meat option.

More Urban Homesteading Ideas

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6 Tips on How to Start Urban Homesteading For Beginners

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  1. Love this post so much (and love the look of your blog!). We live in a small rural town, so we have some limitations as well. My husband is trying to convince me to get quail or rabbits for our backyard lol! It’s hard to wait for that dream homestead, but the skills we are learning in these smaller places is going to make living in a larger space so much easier!

  2. Maddie L. says:

    Great post! Loved these ideas, and got a few new ideas to try on our homestead 🙂

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A community for those looking to take things slower in life. We discuss and share things like gardening, preserving (canning, freezing, dehydrating), homemaking, and homesteading.